Sacramento Police Department and Sacramento LGBT Community Center strengthen partnership amid uniform controversy
The Sacramento Police Department (Department) and the Sacramento LGBT Community Center (Center) have committed to strengthening their partnership through community engagement strategies intended to ensure the safety and dignity of all when engaging with law enforcement, including those who are LGBTQ. As part of the partnership, Department police officers, many of whom are LGBTQ themselves, will be welcome in uniform at SacPride and those who have been or feel disenfranchised by law enforcement will now have a platform upon which to seek improvements.
LGBTQ members of the Department along with Chief Daniel Hahn, Center Board Members and the Executive Director met in late May to discuss the Center’s initial denial of LGBTQ police participation at SacPride events. During the meeting, the Center explained that the decision was motivated to protect those who experience anxiety and fear provoked by the uniform, particularly transgender people and queer people of color.
“Everyone at the table listened, heard one another, and spoke from the heart, making it apparent everyone had the same desire to do what is best for the community,” said Hahn. “It’s a complex landscape but ultimately boils down to a simple shared desire: we all want to be accepted for who we are and to feel safe and welcome in our own communities. As a Department, we are committed to continue our work with the Center on connectedness, youth programs, collaborative community forums, liaison enhancement, policy revision, education and long-lasting relationships.”
“The Stonewall riots were an uprising against law enforcement led by transgender women of color like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and queer youth, many of them poor, against unjust raids, abuses and violence,” said Carlos Marquez, Board President for the Center. “Fifty years later, we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the vestiges of indifference, fear and bias from that period still lurk within our City today. We cannot be surprised when those for whom law enforcement has been historically and disproportionately applied are stricken with fear by the sight of a uniform nor can we be surprised when banning that uniform doesn’t bring about the deeper change we seek. This partnership is about healing and propelling us forward.”
This partnership embraces the shared values of equity and inclusion and lays out commitments upon which the two organizations can build and sustain trust between the LGBTQ community and law enforcement. Included in our commitments is the pursuit of LGBTQ-affirmative community engagement strategies, training, recruitment and retention, and policy change.
Together, through our strengthened partnership, we will create and implement the following:
- Community Advisory Committee – Establish a standing LGBTQ Community Advisory Committee to examine and recommend policies and best practices that improve service delivery to the LGBTQ community, and remove all barriers for LGBTQ individuals, especially for transgender individuals, to safely and effectively engage with law enforcement;
- New Officer Training – Co-create an LGBTQ-focused community engagement training for all new officers that elevates the voices of marginalized LGBTQ community members and discusses the role of implicit bias;
- Community Forums – Organize ongoing LGBTQ community forums that include the Chief of Police, the Executive Director or board president of the Center, LGBTQ police officers, and interested LGBTQ community members;
- Enhanced LGBTQ Liaison Position – Enhance LGBTQ representation in the Department’s outreach unit to include an LGBTQ Liaison Officer. Along with the community, the liaison will advocate and assist in updating and creating policies, procedures, and track current laws as well as state and national LGBTQ community trends;
- Center Complaint/Reporting Program – Establish a program within the Center for community members to report crimes and/or complaints to the Department in an accurate, timely, and affirming manner.
Councilmember Steve Hansen praised the dialogue and resolution between the Department and Center. “This agreement reflects so much of what I love about our City, the embrace of dialogue and the building of bridges. We owe it to all members of the LGBTQ community, especially those who are transgender or people of color, to ensure their voice is heard and their safety be paramount every day all day. We also owe it to the LGBTQ officers and allies to recognize their pioneering role in opening up law enforcement careers to people of diverse backgrounds. Above all else, we owe it to our City and residents to show the power of neighborliness in working together to promote a welcoming, safe, and supportive community.”
“We have created a culture of inclusion inside of our Department as well as out in the community that will continue to move us in a forward direction. The uniform opens the doors to tough conversations that we will never shy away from,” added Sacramento Police Captain Pam Seyffert, who is openly LGBTQ.
The Department also emphasized the progress achieved in creating a climate where LGBTQ police officers can serve openly and endeavor to recruit officers who reflect the diverse communities they are sworn to serve, including a greater number of transgender officers and LGBTQ officers of color. The Department created a Gender Awareness class that has trained approximately 700 of the Department’s personnel on issues related to gender-identity.
SacPride takes place on June 8-9, 2019, at Capitol Mall, with the March taking place Sunday, June 9. The Department and Center are equally committed to protecting the public’s safety this weekend where all will be welcome.